Broad general statement coming at you: I think most of us would prefer to never fall. You get your hopes up and then there’s rejection. Ouch. Or you’re walking along and fall flat on your face (or your back, depending). Also ouch. Whether it’s physical or emotional, falling can hurt.
Something you might not expect about yoga teacher training is that it’s really, truly, completely for people of all levels. As long as you want to deepen your yoga practice and are willing to put the time into it, TT can be for you. You don’t have to be able to do a full Chaturanga or balance in Crow or get into a full Headstand.
You do have to be willing to try. The worst thing that happens is that you fall or make a mistake, and that’s okay and even applauded. (And sometimes laughed at, but it’s out of love.)
Well, the real worst thing that happens is that you fall and injure yourself or somebody else, which is slightly less okay-feeling, but it’s still probably okay in the long run.
In general, we would all rather settle in slowly at a pace that’s comfortable for us. We like to have control, and falling is absolutely not controllable. In TT, we do work with control. Yoga involves a lot of control. You time your breaths to your movements and pull your muscles in the right directions at the right times. If you’re teaching, you control the pace of the whole class, and most of what your students do. That’s a lot of responsibility. But when your trainers tell you to get up and teach, you just dive right in and mess up a little and get better as you go.
Whether you’re a student or a teacher, when you’re working on new things, you have teachers to help ease you in and advise. But no matter how many times someone guides you to do the right things, sometimes you have to feel it for yourself first.
Maybe you can correct course when you start to stumble, but you might just have to fall. Maybe you forget to say a pose and end up confusing your students. Or maybe you’re practicing and you really end up falling over. The more you forget and fall, the more you learn and the better you get.
You just get back up.
My most recent example does happen to be yoga-related. It’s called trying to stand on my head. My neck is easily the weakest part of my body, so my story has always been that I can’t. But… I actually can. I just have to be extra careful to make sure my shoulders can handle it to keep the tension out of my neck. There really shouldn’t be much weight in your neck at all in a headstand.
Most of the strength in a headstand is in your core. I have the core strength to get up into headstand, but not always enough control to prevent myself from going too far. So, my fear with headstand is tipping over too far and falling flat on my back, hard, on the wood floors of a yoga studio. Also, I have always had a weird aversion to using a wall because what if I hit it too hard and rebound down uncontrollably? I’m pretty sure this is almost impossible, but it’s in my head.
I was always much more comfortable trying it with someone to help stabilize my feet, so a few of my TT trainers have been serving as my occasional wall for months.
But I was way too scared to try it on my own with enough power to get all the way up. I would kick halfway up and slowly come down. Repeat, a million times. I heard it all:
- “Engage your core!”
- “You’re almost there! Kick a little harder and tuck your tailbone.”
- “It’s all in your abs. Don’t kick so hard.”
And then: “Just go for it. The worst thing that happens is you fall.”
Yeah, but I don’t wanna fall.
Then, I was in class on Friday with one of the ladies I did TT with, and she fell face-first out of a totally different pose (to plenty of giggles). I talked to her about it after class and said I’d always been afraid of falling out of that pose. She’s a badass, but she just shrugged and said, “It really wasn’t that bad. You just hit the floor and try again.”The worst thing that happens is you fall. Just get back up and try again. #FitFluential #yoga Click To Tweet
Wait. Is it really that simple?
But it’s not that easy.
I would argue that it is that simple, but it’s not that easy. If you get 13 job rejections and the person you’re 93% sure you’re in love with doesn’t know you exist and also you fell down the stairs, that is a lot of falling and getting back up and that is exhausting and perhaps you don’t want to try more and fall more.
Maybe you do “safer” things for a while. That’s okay. I don’t stop doing yoga because I can’t do a headstand. In fact, I do a whole lot of other yoga in between my headstand attempts. A little bit of self-protection is self care. It’s showing up for yourself. You’re ready to start back to the hard stuff when it starts to sound a little more fun than scary.
Get tired of your stories.
I started practicing headstands more and more with my TT trainers when I take their classes over the last few months. And then, after my friend told me last week that falling wasn’t so bad, I decided maybe she was right. I got tired of my own bullshit about not being able to and about falling being scary, so I started practicing in my dorm room later that night. And for the next two days.
Guess what? Now I can do a headstand. Guess what else? There were plenty of times I was still too scared to get straight up. I also fell gracefully a few times. And I fell not-at-all-gracefully a few times.
Sure, it hurt, but I was pretty happy that I tried. When I make a mistake teaching, I turn bright red and smile and move on, and I’m happy to take the risk. It all hurts a little less every time.Practice falling. It hurts a little less every time. #yoga #FitFluential Click To Tweet
Here’s the takeaway.
When I want to do something new, whether it’s a yoga pose, a career thing, or a hobby or class that’s out of my comfort zone, the perfectionist in me is all, “Haha no. If you haven’t done it, you can’t do it, so you should probably just forget it.” My ego is all, “Psh. You can do that. No problem.” The adrenaline junkie says, “Do it! It’ll be fun!” And the longtime yogi says, “Just try. Even if you fall, you’ve done that before, and it’ll be okay.”
Are you risk-averse or risk-loving? I’m working on being a little more moderate. But mostly risk-averse.
What did you do this weekend? A lot of baking and headstands.